The Insect Cuticle The First Line of Defence

The cuticle forms a mechanical barrier, made of chitin fibrils embedded in a protein matrix, on the exterior and the interior midgut, trachea, and genital tract regions of the insect (Wigglesworth, 1972). The outer layer of the cuticle (the epicuticle) is covered in a waxy layer containing lipids, fatty acids, and sterols. This chitinous exoskeleton is a matrix of carbohydrates and protein secreted from a monolayer of epidermal cells covering the entire surface area of the insect (Wigglesworth, 1972).

An intact cuticle effectively prevents entry of micro-organisms and injury of the cuticle activates the humoral responses such as melanisation around injured area and the production of AMPs to fight microbes at the site of entry (Kavanagh & Reeves, 2004).

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